‘Helping skills lab’ deals with various dorm situations
Residential Advisors at CU are trained by the university to ensure safety among all residents, including their mental health.
One of the many requirements that CU RAs undergo is a two-week training period during which they learn how to react in different circumstances.
During the two-week training period, students learn the rules and undergo policy review. They also learn how to deal with suicide issues, eating disorders and homesickness.
“You have training on how to handle academic problems, roommate conflicts, and how to handle people who might be depressed,” Kelly Matulich a junior sociology major and second-year Cheyenne Arapaho RA said. “We also stage different conflicts and new RAs need to go.”
For four hours, new RAs undergo a ‘helping skills lab.’ The RAs rotate through different situations where new RAs practice dealing with mental health or counseling situations while their peers look on and discussions are held afterwards. Older RAs offer advice and tips on how to handle the situation.
“We are mandatory reporters,” Matulich said. This means that RAs are obligated by law to report any potential danger to residents such as suicide, weapon possession or rape.
Also, RAs undergo sessions on diversity training, fire safety, programming ideas and policy enforcement procedure.
Matulich said that she has dealt with a lot of roommate conflicts. When a problem arises Matulich said, “You need to know who to call. You become pretty good friends with CUPD and you need to know what different resources there are.”
According to Matulich, if someone fails a test, she would recommend tutoring. If someone were depressed, Matulich would then recommend a counselor at Williard. The purpose of RA training is to ensure that RAs know how to deal with these types of situations.
According to Matulich, RAs need to know “what you do in every situation. There is a certain order of people you contact when something happens.”
When a problem arises there is a certain way RAs are taught to act.
“It’s very important to remain calm,” Matulich said. “If you have someone who has alcohol poisoning, you need to be the one who keeps a level head and gets all the correct information down so you can give the correct information to the police and paramedics.”
Other RAs explain that the training session is also a way for the staff to get to know one another.
“RA training was extremely effective for staff bonding,” Samuel Twito, a sophomore anthropology major, said in an e-mail interview. “Making it as unpleasant possibly did this even more effectively.”
Twito said that feels he is not applying the knowledge he learned from these sessions in his daily interactions with those he looks after.
“The information we got in lectures is rarely used by me or the other RAs,” Twito said. “What I remember from lecture days were things the (returning RAs) and (Senior RA) told me. Just talking to them for a few days would give us all the information we’d need.”
Despite this training of helping skills, during freshman year some students did not feel they had strong connection with their RAs.
“I spoke to (my RA) about three times,” Cory Piirto, a freshman pre-communication major said. “I never saw her during the year. I think she spent every night in (Cheyenne Arapaho) with her boyfriend.”
If students find themselves in trouble with their RA they can avoid escalating the situation by being honest.
“RAs don’t want to be the bad guy,” Matulich said. “We just want to make sure people are safe and protected. It helps us a lot if people can be truthful about what’s going on and we just want to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. We don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Jennifer Jacobs at email@example.com